'We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.'
This world is riddled with pain & suffering; there can be no denying this horrendous & horrifying fact! Again though, we should as ourselves, 'why?' Why do we feel such pain & suffer ( loss ) so much? Is it not because we have become so attached to what is impermanent & transitory? We fight to keep these biological bodies from perishing ( as long as we reasonably can ), in fact, we tax ( to the breaking point ) our resources to keep healthy, or to rebuild our health & stay healthy. This is not to say that there is anything necessarily wrong with any of these propositions, because in order to most beneficently utilize our time in this biology, we must stay healthy ourselves! As Jesus, the Great Master to the Hebrews, said, 'Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father' ( John 20:17 ). We, human as we are, have a tendency to cling (voraciously ) to what we perceive with the 'five senses', being programmed, by our environment, yet still through our own individual choices, to 'forget' that we are possessed of a greater sense yet!
That sense, which some have called 'consciousness', might also be termed 'spirituality'. It is the awareness, or consciousness, that we are all connected, not just with others, as human beings, but that in order to survive in this biology, we must realize our interdependency, our relationship, if you will, with all living things. As Christians, we are well acquainted with the concept of spirituality, but we also tend, as above, to think linearly, simply speaking, vertically, rather than horizontally. By this, I mean to say that though we usually ( again, as Christians ) view life horizontally, at least from a biblical purview, the tendency, among most Christians anyway, is to look at life from a vertical standpoint, in essence, that we must pursue a blessed relationship with our Heavenly Father in order that we might enjoy an eternity in 'Heaven' ( up there ). This is actually true, but more from a horizontal viewpoint!
In order to experience 'Heaven', we must enjoy a blessed relationship with our Heavenly Father; on that point I want to be abundantly clear! Notice, I did say 'experience' rather than 'go to' ( when we die ). Even biblically speaking, especially from the teaching of Jesus, Paul & the apostles, we should deduce that 'Heaven', rather than being somewhere we 'go' when we die, is our experience in blessed Relationship with the Creator & His Creation. In fact, when Jesus said 'indeed, the kingdom of God is [g]within you' ( Luke 17:21), He was, in essence, telling them ( us as well ) that 'Heaven', as the abode of 'God' was within us all. As Christians, especially, we can also point to the universal truth of what Jesus told His disciples, recorded in John 14:23; 'If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him'. We've been over this ground before, but since the so-called 'God-head' ( Father, Son & Holy Spirit? ) has made His ( Their? ) Home with us, it should not be too much of a leap to ascertain that 'Heaven' is in us!
The Kingdom of Heaven is not simply an experience of course; in order to experience something, it must of necessity be, well....a thing! It has been said that 'Heaven is the Presence of God'
( a wise man said that............no, not really, it was just me! ) & though that is true, it is in defining ( as if IT can be defined! ) the Presence of God, even 'God' Himself, that we run into problems, even sometimes, brick walls. Whether defined collectively ( in a group ) or singularly ( individually ), most everybody has a slightly different perception as to what that Presence should look like. From a biblical point of view, it might look like anything from the Holy Spirit-filled Christian, all the way back to a Divine Intelligence who created everything to run like clockwork. Some would even say that 'God is in everything & everything is ( in ) God'. The perspective of this blogger is that the Creator is our Heavenly Father & that He has set Natural Law in place so that those who live by this Law are blessed, while those who do not do not enjoy its blessings!
This Natural Law then, is such that says, 'if this then that' ( like the biblical injunction of 'whatever a man sows, that he will also reap' - Galatians 6:7 ). The Law of Consequences is known to most, if not all, but too often, it would seem, this realization extends mainly to like beings, specifically, 'human beings'. More & more, with the Evolution of the Soul, people are realizing just how inter-connected, indeed interdependent humans are with & on ALL forms of Life, even the most microscopic, some probably, which have not even been enumerated as of yet. As more come to this startling realization, we will see the Peace of God rule in a way that we had not witnessed before ( except maybe in fairy-tales & such ); even wars will cease as people realize they're only killing themselves, both literally & figuratively. Even the way we eat will change, when we begin to realize the Circle of Life ( then we'll truly understand the meaning of 'you are what you eat' ); no more will we herd cattle into slaughterhouses, like we have for centuries; rather than raising food for the Almighty Dollar, we'll be more careful to respect the Cycle, according to the Creator's Natural Law!
As the world stands now, there is & has been, much pain & suffering! Through faith ( ? ), the pain of that suffering has been somewhat alleviated, but the suffering is still there. Some will say that 'suffering is a human condition'; indeed it is, has been for millennia, but must it be? Must we be so attached to what is only temporary that we feel actual physical pain when we are separated from it? I'm not saying that it's wrong or weak, somehow, to feel pain at say, the passing of a loved one ( I do not say 'loss', because we do not 'lose' them ), or when our body is at dis-ease. Such pain, regrettable & unfortunate as it is, is now almost a Fact of Life in this world, although it need not be. The Evolution of the Soul helps us to realize the true facts of life, that all is not as we perceive. In this sense then, it could well be said that 'Pain is in the Perception'!
The Pain of Sacrifice comes from the loss we feel when we give up something so that another may have it, or even something else. But that is not the Essence of Sacrifice; the Essence of Sacrifice is in sharing, whether it be our life or our ice cream cone. To give of yourself is what sacrifice is all about. Sometimes, yes, as it has in times past, Sacrifice calls for one to lay down his or her life that another might live. This is humanly speaking, though; how often do we think about the plants, the animals, that have given their lives, usually without much complaint, not so much that we might live, but that we might enjoy 'the finer things in life'?!
Speaking of Pain, sad to say, much of the pain we experience, though at first it seems pleasurable, comes from those 'finer things in life'! There's nothing wrong with enjoying a good steak, now & then, don't get me wrong; I myself, enjoy a good filet mignon once in a while. But are we at all concerned with how the 'T-bone', the 'New York Strip' or the 'Filet Mignon' were raised, how the cattle that we so callously consume were treated before their lives were wrested from them? Awareness is on the rise, but I think it would fairly safe to say that the overwhelming majority of consumers do not care where their food (beef ) comes from.
Our lives are not our own! Whether one puts a Christian 'spin' on this phrase or understands it more from an Eastern perspective, the truth is that we are only beginning to understand the depth of it. It goes without saying that, as individual ( human ) beings, we live our lives individually, but once we begin to understand how connected our lives are ( to each other ), we can't help but to begin to live more carefully How we treat, not just the Muslim next door, but the homosexual couple across town that wants us to bake a cake for their wedding. We will think twice before ordering our favorite steak. (did the cow that gave up their life have a comfortable environment as he or she was being raised for slaughter? What did THEY eat?! ) Can we long survive in such an environment? History has shown that we can, but the question might well be asked; 'is mere survival really living?' I would say not!
Charles Haddon Shank